Pillsbery Lake

Making Connections

  • Portage North, 93 rods to Swallow
  • Portage East, 95 rods, to Allen
  • Portage South, 58 rods, to Henson


  • Fisher F-13, No. Gunflint Trail, Gunflint, Bearskin Lakes
  • McKenzie 4, Gunflint Lake


  • DNR Lake No.160318
  • Lake Map No. N/A
  • Lake Table No. 10C
Pillsbery Lake
Scale 1:21420
Full image approximately 2 miles square


Pillsbery is one of many long and narrow lakes, with a distinct east/west orientation, which mark this eastern end of the BWCA. A mile and a quarter long it is but an eighth mile wide. Pillsbery lies parallel to and in the middle rank with Swallow and Meeds to the north, and Henson and Gaskin to the south. Lower than these near neighbors, it drains both the Swallow and Henson basins, itself draining into Allen to the east. Pillsbery provides access to diminutive Swallow, 93 rods and 15' above it to the north, and from there to Meeds, another 100 rods, but with a 25' descent, farther north. A 95 rod portage with a 27' drop, not shown on the map above, connects with Allen to the east, while a 58 rod portage rises 12' to Henson in the south.


Pillsbery is a small lake, and has but two campsites, both on its northern shore. The one sits on a point above the mouth of the boggy seepage down from Swallow; the other farther to the east. Both sites appear to be lightly used, at least, we've never seen any other party camped here.

Planning Considerations

There are several east/west routes through this eastern end of the BWCA, following the topography of its long, narrow lakes. Pillsbery sits on one of these, from Horseshoe in the east to Long Island in the west. It also sits on one of the few north/south routes through this region, from Meeds in the north south to Gaskin and Winchell. Neither of these is a preferred route for most travelers, however, which makes the Pillsbery routes especially appealing. The heavy traffic tends to stay farther to the south, the highway running from Horseshoe through Gaskin to Winchell and beyond to Brule.


Pillsbery is prime moose and wolf habitat. We've seen moose here in the swampy drainage from Swallow and on the portage to Allen.

Notes and Comments

Pillsbery and its environs provide one of the better opportunities to experience the boreal forest. Take an extra day and bushwhack into Moon.

Line of Spruce Trees

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Last updated on 11 April, 2004